Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Non-Swimmer Wins the Prize!

Climbing a Stairway to Heaven: Last Shabbat we Jews had the honor of reading Parshat VaYetze, And He Went Out, which began with the story of Jacob's Ladder. 

And while we're talking about ladders reaching to Heaven ... 
Abq Jew has the distinct honor and personal pleasure of announcing -

Best Religious Book 2016
New Mexico - Arizona Book Awards
A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah:
On Becoming Jewish After Fifty
by Mary E Carter

OK, so maybe you heard already. But like the old Israeli joke about the announcement of David Ben Gurion's death, we just can't hear it enough.

(American Jews cannot imagine how Israeli Jews can laugh about Ben Gurion's death. But Abq Jew reminds you, his loyal readers, that we Jews are nothing if not - every now and then, literally - iconclastic. Witness what happened just last week with Benjamin Netanyahu's golden statue in Tel Aviv.)

But Abq Jew digresses.

Let's look at some of the accolades (aka "blurbs") Non-Swimmer has received. (And you can read what Abq Jew wrote about Non-Swimmer when it was first published at A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah.)

First, from Rabbi Paul Citrin.
This book is superb.To my knowledge it is without peer in style or approach. Mary E. Carter takes readers on an intimate journey on her path to choosing Judaism. Its guideposts are openness and honesty. Her elegant prose is interwoven with Jewish vocabulary and idiom which flow with authenticity. Her reflections, while personal, convey universal messages. Her story presents applied Judaism with encouragement for those in process of adopting Judaism as well as for Jews who seek renewal.

Next, from Rabbi Deborah Brin.
Who knew a book about becoming Jewish could be so engaging? Carter’s talent as a visual artist shows from cover to content. Vignettes, snapshots, and episodes converge in a kaleidoscopic rendering of her journey to Judaism . . . a refreshing and unique approach to the discussion of conversion.
And from Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld.
Carter presents her story in sensitive terms that are accessible to all.Those who are considering a life as a Jew will gain insight and understanding into making the process most meaningful. Those who were born Jewish will gain insight and understanding into the process of those who choose Judaism as adults.
And from Tammy Kaiser.
This is more than a book. It is a journey. The lyrical prose and evocative descriptions catapult the reader into a different place, and in many cases, time. In the end, I felt as if I emerged from the waters of the mikvah along with the author. This book should be on every Jewish bookshelf!
Last, and least, from Abq Jew.
A deeply insightful, wonderfully written, in all ways excellent read!

What can we learn from this?

Abq Jew is really bad at writing book blurbs.

Mary E Carter herself tells Abq Jew
In my Jewish life, my book is not just a good read. My book represents a "movement" of a certain population of Jews - the older adult who decides to join the Tribe. 
We, as a group, are important in that we made conscious decisions to become Jews. We bring with us whole universes of experience, of living, of thought and of intention that nourish Jewish secular and religious life. 
I observe that we also bring a childlike enthusiasm for all the learning that we must fulfill after our mikvahs. Boy. I'll never be able to have time to learn everything about this new life I have made for myself. And that's a fantastic thing to be able to say at a rather old age. Something huge to look forward to! 
We who do this are adding to the sadly diminishing population of Jews in America (elsewhere too). 
My book is not just a kind of "I always knew I had a Jewish heart" essay. 
I hope I communicated way more than that. Sure, I do have a Jewish heart. But to make this move as a fully fledged adult is no small accomplishment. And I gave my entire life to my enterprise. 
Splashing up into the air after my third dip into the waters of my mikvah I felt that I had shot up like a rocket into whole new atmosphere and that I was taking my first breath in my chosen new planet.

Not sure if I am making myself altogether clear. But, my book is not just a book to read. It represents a group of us who in our small human ways bring something immense to our Jewish world.

Amazon tells us, and Abq Jew emphatically agrees:
This is a book for anyone thinking about becoming Jewish as an adult. This is also a book for anyone considering any form of major change after age fifty. 
Mary E. Carter demonstrates that it is possible for an older person to continue growing and changing later in life. This is not to say that everyone can or will, but, certainly, anyone can try. 


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